we are all meant to be mothers of God

Theotokos -  Maryana Flyak

Theotokos - Maryana Flyak

While Advent marks the beginning of the new liturgical year, I often experience it as a hinge, a transitional space that holds past and future in tension. It invites us to awareness and discernment, to notice where God is at work in our world and in our lives.

This year the tension has been especially strong. Violence and terror persist. The peace foretold by ancient prophets seems illusory in face of ongoing wars, economic instability, and political hubris. The justice that makes valleys low and rough places plain seems far off in face of oppressive, racist systems that scapegoat immigrants and devalue lives of color. And when we consider our personal challenges and pains, and those of our family and friends, it can be overwhelming.

Nativity - Lalo  Garcia

Nativity - Lalo Garcia

And so we pray that God will come again. We hold out hope for lasting peace, for justice that will reorder our world. We wait for the arrival of One who will comfort and still our fearful, anxious hearts. We want things to be better than they are. And sometimes that's as far as we go.

But it's not enough to wait, to hope, to pray. The Love we long for is something that we give birth to, that we tend and nurture. The peace and justice that transform the world come from us, from our personal and collective intention. This is the 'work of Christmas' that Howard Thurman writes about:

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

Ethiopian Theotokos

Ethiopian Theotokos

God is with us. Incarnate Love is with us, not just in a manger long ago but reborn and in the here and now. The 13th century philosopher, theologian, and mystic Meister Eckhart (1260-1328) echoes this: 

'We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of Man is begotten in us.' 

Incarnation is an ongoing and steady process, not just a historic event. But, like Mary, we are given the gift of choice. We can say yes to a creative, generative, transformative calling or we can shrink in self doubt, discouragement, or fear. 

This season I wrote a new Advent/Christmas song for Pioneer Ocean View UCC in San Diego, inspired by Meister Eckhardt's words. Even as their community focused on making space for Christ's birth, I invite you to listen and consider how you might give God a face, a voice, or place in this world. How will you nurture the precious life and love of God within you and share it with the world? How can you create spaces in your family and faith community where peace and justice will grow and thrive? How can we inspire each other to hopeful, creative and generous lives in face of the challenges and perils that we face? 

What good is it to me
if Christ's eternal birth takes place unceasingly,
but does not take place within me?
What good is it to me
for the Creator to give birth to a child
if I do not give birth to him in my time and place.

We are all meant to be mothers of God,
for God is ever waiting to be born.
We are all meant to be mothers of God,
to give God a face, to give God a voice,
to give God a place in this world.

And so like Mary full grace,
we make our lives a welcome space.
We say yes to love in the midst of fear.
We say yes to hope, we trust that you are near.
We say yes to joy so deep it soothes the pain,
We say yes to peace and light and freedom once again.

Text and music: Paul M. Vasile, ©2015